The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said it will prioritise COVID-19 vaccination for journalists, stressing that media practitioners play pivotal roles in the fight against the virus.
A lead discussant and representative of the world health body, Dr Remi Kushimo, made the disclosure on Wednesday in Lagos at a refresher training/workshop on COVID-19 organised for media practitioners in partnership with the Lagos State Ministry of Health.
Speaking on the theme of the workshop, “Risk Communication and Community Engagement”, Kushimo informed Media practitioners drawn from the broadcast, new and tradition media that the World Health Organisation is committed to raising people’s awareness about the COVID-19 pandemic.
To achieve this, she said, “The people need to be informed and equipped with the right and accurate information. People are in the middle fire and they are saying there is no fire. We need to raise the awareness level of the people on the virus. The ultimate solution to the virus is not going to be the vaccine but on how we break the chain of transmission. This is why education is the pillar of communication.
Media practitioners need to communicate to the people in a simple and clear language they could easily relate with.
Feedback from the public is very important and this can be gotten through various reports written by journalists.”
Responding to a question on what WHO is doing to ensure the safety of journalists reporting the virus, she said, “Journalist are our priority. We have not gone out to train any other professional just journalists. Journalists are number One followed by community leaders. So when the vaccine comes, Journalist will be given priority.
“When the vaccine arrives in the country, I am charging the media to create awareness and encourage the people to go for it. They should avoid messages that will create panic and fear in the mind of the people.
“The right message at the right time from the right person can save lives but when we don’t have these three things together, people die.”
Speaking earlier on the essence of the training, Lagos State Coordinator of World Health Organisation (WHO), Mr Sam Yenyi said the training is aimed at enhancing the level of productivity and quality of reportage of journalist reporting the virus.
He however called on Nigerians not to stigmatise COVID-19 survivors, noting that stigmatisation would hinder the people from speaking up if they observe the symptoms of the virus.
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